Fresh Bread! It’s what is so highly sought after on our weekly shop; as a coterie of shopper’s pluck loafs of bread from the shelves, with gentle squeezes and checks of best before dates. Bread has been a staple of our diet since ancient times with communities baking flat breads 12,000 years ago by mixing flour and water and resting them in the sun, which is a stark comparison to our factory bread, churned out in its vast numbers daily. However, this last year’s lockdown has meant that the relationship between bakers and neighbours have been strengthened, and independent bakeries have slowly reclaimed their spot in the heart of our communities.
The ‘Rise’ of Health Benefits
While some of us have an intolerance to gluten, known as coeliac disease, for the rest of us gluten isn’t necessarily the enemy. Rather, it’s the type of bread, how it is produced, and the way we consume it that is the issue for our tummies.
Food consumption has changed significantly over the last few decades, too fast for our bodies and digestive systems to evolve and adapt. We’ve gone from an exclusively unprocessed diet of traditional food preparation such as slow cooking and fermentation, to a diet largely made up of processed, artificial, fast food. Unfortunately, bread has been one of the biggest casualties in our industrialised way of eating. Slow fermented, grain-rich loaves take up to 24 hours to prepare, but it’s been replaced by barren white factory bread churned out every hour as a result of a need for faster, cheaper food. This bread sometimes has the additional ingredients of sugar, oil, vinegar, preservatives and flour treatment agents, which only add to the potential intolerance and ‘bloat’ which is felt from consuming store brought bread.
Sourdoughs are made up of a natural starter, a culture of wild yeasts and friendly bacteria that the baker keeps alive and thriving by feeding it water and flour on a regular basis. This process of baking also has the extra benefits of lactic acids, enzymes and flavour. When added to the sourdough, this natural fermentation process can take up to a day, something that would never happen in a commercial bakery. This helps to break down gluten, so the result is a much more digestible and delicious loaf.
The benefits of traditionally produced bread do not start and end with your digestive system, the benefits to our local community are felt too. A local artisan baker will have a secure predictable market, that he is familiar with and knows well. This creates a supportive social community for suppliers and a sense of belonging. Not to mention the capital that is created and returned within the community itself. For the consumer an understanding of where your bread comes from, while being an exceptional source of quality bread is hard to beat. Alongside a fair-trade price to the baker, the consumer and perhaps even back through the supply chain to the producers and suppliers of basic ingredients.
Ideas of how Latis will ensure the steadfast approach to the local high street could include community ownership, owned and run by our very own communities. Subscription schemes could see customers commit to and pay in advance for a certain number of loaves over a given period of time. As well as helping a local producer with cashflow, it gives a better idea of demand, thereby reducing risk of food waste.
So, while it is convenient going to your local supermarket to pick up a fresh loaf; don’t forget hand-crafted artisan bread, the old-school way of baking, actually makes bread good for you!
Visualisation of a Latis high street with bakery